Fans of author Andrea Cremer's Nightshade trilogy were thrilled last year when the author released Rift, a prequel to her paranormal series. The novel, set in a past filled with witches and warlocks, follows Ember and Barrow as they risk everything to be together. The sequel to Rift, Rise, released yesterday and continues this couple's story. Today the author answers our questions about Ember and Barrow, what it was like writing a historical setting and if there are any more Nightshade stories in her (and our!) future.
You debuted in 2010 with the Nightshade series. After the trilogy's riveting ending you decided to write a prequel to the series. What made you realize that Ember and Barrow needed their own story?
While Nightshade is set in present-day Colorado, I had already fleshed out the origin story of the Searchers and Keepers and the war between them that led to the tumultuous events in Calla's life. When my publisher asked about more books in the series, my instinct was to go back to the beginning. I wanted to show readers how it all began and the pivotal ways in which the past shaped the present. However, I didn't want to lose the tension and character evolution that are vital to a compelling narrative. Ember and Barrow are the emotional touchstones that connect readers to events that happened long ago.
In Rift you take readers 600 years into the past. What are the biggest challenges writing an historical setting?
Making the past relevant to the present. Prior to writing full-time I was a history professor, so researching an historical setting is something I was trained to do. However creating a world that is both realistic and engaging as well as characters who readers can relate to and whose triumphs and challenges feel urgent can be tricky. As I mentioned earlier, anchoring the narrative in the personal journeys and evolution of characters is the key to creating a compelling narrative whether it takes place in the past, present, or future.
Your newest release, Rise, continues Ember and Barrow's story. And boy does the couple want out of their world! This idea of escape is very relatable, but with lives at stake, Ember and Barrow have more at risk than the average teen. What makes Ember and Barrow's lives bearable?
Ember and Barrow live in a brutal world, full of risk and mostly lacking in creature comforts. They are sustained by their love for one another, loyalty to their companions, and belief that despite the cost it remains worthwhile to fight against the dark forces rising all around them.
Ember's fate is that she will start the destructive Witches' War. Do you believe that everyone's future is fated or are we guided by free will?
Wow. I'm pretty sure there are entire philosophy courses on this subject. The issue of fate vs. free will is a fascinating subject and one I address in Nightshade using the philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke to set up the two sides of that debate. Hobbes' posited a view of the world that is brutal a 'war of all against all' that is inescapable, whereas Locke argued that we all begin as a blank slate, the 'tabula rasa,' and can shape our fates via reason. My view on this topic is a bit odd. I think we all have many possible fates, but the choices we make via free will ultimately determine where we end up. Sidenote: I'm also a fan of the idea that there are parallel, alternate universes.
The Nightshade series was a trilogy. Are you planning on writing a third book featuring Ember and Barrow?
I do have a synopsis for a third book that my editor loves, but I have a very full publishing docket for the next couple of years. If it works in the schedule I'll try to sneak it in, but at this point book three remains a possibility rather than a certainty. Stay tuned!